One Bite at a Time

20160109_142235At the risk of confirming what most people already suspect – that I simply can’t sit still – here’s a pic of how I’m spending my winter evenings: cutting up fabric scraps that are too small for anything else, with plans to compost them come spring.

I keep thinking they might make good filler for something (perhaps a dog bed?) or could be an eco-friendly confetti. Personally, I love the feeling of plunging my hand deep into the pile of bits and pieces, so maybe they could be used as a sensory tool/experience?

For me, the important part is that all of my fabric scraps are used, in one way or another, instead of sent to the landfill. So, on evenings when I don’t feel like starting or completing a larger project, I sit with my box of scraps and snip, snip, snip.

All sorts of metaphors cross my mind while I’m snipping. Some nights, it feels like I’m whittling away negative thoughts or grudges, carving and cutting, tinier and tinier, until they’re so small only nature and time can break them down further. Other nights, this pre-composting practice meets my need to see some sort of progress made at the end of my day. Tiny, yes, but tangible.

Lately, I’ve pondered using these scraps as a metaphor our boys can reference when they get overwhelmed by a project or assignment that seems impossibly large.

“How do you eat an elephant?” I ask.

“Mom! Stop saying that. This isn’t an elephant.” (They’re supposed to answer, “One bite at a time.”)

“This was an elephant,” I say, pointing to my pile of scraps.

20160109_142436Our older son isn’t interested in clever metaphors, but our younger son will sometimes take the bait. I remind him that clothes we outgrow, that can be worn again, get donated, but things too stained or tattered to give away get broken down.

A shirt may be turned into t-shirt yarn or cut into rags for cleaning or handkerchiefs. I’ll save the band at the bottom of the shirt to tether a weak tomato plant or tie around a rolled up blanket to keep it from unrolling. I’ll harvest any pockets or buttons or embellishments for future craft projects. Then whatever is left will go into my scrap box, for the evenings when I snip, snip, snip.

Raising children is a lot like composting. I do my best to add an even amount of browns and greens, to turn things over so air and sunlight can do their work, but, in the end, it just takes time.

So, maybe I’ll only compost half of my fabric scraps and keep the other half as a visual aid (or for me to plunge my hands into) when they’re stressing about the thing-that-isn’t-an-elephant.


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